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Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 30, 2012 9:26pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Before or after the 'hiatus' ?

I treasure many moments from '76, but I think the Dead were better in '74.
The band sounded more agile when Bill K was the only drummer.
A lot of material in early '76 suffered from the slowness syndrome.
They were more likely to spring some enormous jam on you in '74. (Though there are still some examples of surprise mini-jams between songs in '76.)
Some of my favorite material disappeared in '76 - Dark Star, China Cat, even Truckin' with its jam possibilities. (And only one He's Gone!)
Of the jam tunes that remained, Eyes & Let It Grow & the Other One did not extend as far as they used to (with a few exceptions), and Playing in the Band definitely lost a few steps in '76. The Dead, in short, were much less mind-bending.

It's a close thing, though. '76 does still have some of the last vestiges of the pre-hiatus style - Keith's still active in the jams, and there's still real improv & thematic jams happening in the medleys.
I could see you making a case for '76 in other areas - with some new songs like Slipknot & Crazy Fingers & the disco stuff, the band was a bit more diverse than it had been, and a bit less country-sounding. '76 was also a key year for surprise segues & strange song combinations (something you don't see too much in '74). Garcia also had an especially sweet tone that year.